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Iran Refuses to 'Kneel' as Nuclear Deadline Approaches

Students form a chain around Iran's Isfahan uranium-conversion facility during a 2005 demonstration in support of the nation's nuclear program. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Wednesday said Tehran would not "kneel" to other countries in negotiations on its nuclear program. Students form a chain around Iran's Isfahan uranium-conversion facility during a 2005 demonstration in support of the nation's nuclear program. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Wednesday said Tehran would not "kneel" to other countries in negotiations on its nuclear program. (Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images)

Iran's top envoy said his nation would not "kneel" to other countries seeking to defuse a years-old nuclear standoff by July 20, Reuters reports.

Tehran is "willing to take concrete measures to guarantee that our nuclear program will always remain peaceful," Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a video on Wednesday, shortly before a final round of multilateral negotiations under a six-month interim atomic accord. Tehran has suggested it could take certain steps to dispel fears that it is seeking a nuclear-arms capacity in exchange for sanctions relief from China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

"To those who continue to believe that sanctions brought Iran to the negotiating table, I can only say that pressure has been tried for the past eight years, in fact for the past 35 years," Zarif said.

"It didn't bring the Iranian people to kneel in submission. And it will not now nor in the future," he said.

Negotiators have reportedly failed to gain significant traction in a dispute over Iran's uranium-enrichment capabilities, which can produce material for weapons as well as civilian applications. Washington and other Western capitals have pressed for strict limits on Tehran's refinement capacity.

In comments to state media, another Iranian diplomat said his country would not make offers outside its pre-established "red lines," Agence France-Presse reported on Wednesday.

"If we reach a deal it will be one respecting these red lines. If not there will be no accord," Deputy Foreign Minister Majid Ravanchi told the Iranian Students' News Agency.

British Foreign Minister William Hague, though, said the five permanent U.N. Security Council member nations and Germany would "not accept a deal at any price," according to Reuters.

"A deal that does not provide sufficient assurances that Iran will not develop a nuclear weapon is not in the interests of the U.K., the region or the international community," he said in released comments.

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